Public officials should be held accountable, and that includes Las Vegas Mayor Tony Marquez. Before last year’s election, we endorsed his candidacy for mayor, expecting him to be a breath of fresh air at City Hall. We supported his vision of transparency and accountability — and still do.
But we have come to disagree with how he has tried to carry out that vision. He has brought great instability to city government, and that has high costs for our community.
To be sure, chaos at City Hall is nothing new. It’s tradition in Las Vegas for new mayors to come in swaggering, insisting on loyalists to serve in the upper tiers of city government.
Over the last decade, the Meadow City has had six city managers and plenty of interims. During the same period, the City Council and mayor have pushed out many directors — sometimes for political reasons.
What’s so disappointing about Marquez is that he’s bungled one personnel matter after another. He promised to be a different kind of mayor but he’s becoming ineffective at carrying out his promises. First, he almost hired a city manager who didn’t have the necessary qualifications, then, in an effort to take control of City Hall operations, he fired six department heads, then took months to refill the open positions. In fact, while the firings took place in June, most of the replacements have come in November, and two more last month.
Last summer, Marquez hired Sharon Caballero, a former Highlands University president, as city manager. But she couldn’t get much done with most of the management team missing. In mid-December, a burnt-out Caballero left suddenly, accusing the mayor of micromanagement. The position remains unfilled.
More than a week ago, Marquez placed the city’s utilities director, George Du Four, on unpaid leave, his fate left to a vote of the City Council on Wednesday. The mayor is not divulging his reasons either to the public or the council.
For interim city manager, Marquez has picked not one but two directors to serve in that capacity. And for utilities, Marquez has brought two people from outside city government to manage the department. Isn’t it better to have one person in charge — for clarity’s sake?
If Marquez wants to get things done for the community, he needs to quit firing people and bring stability to City Hall. So far, he has failed in this regard.